The Week In Links

The annual Istanbul Tulip Festival began this week, and will continue to the end of the month. My plan this week was to go out and take a bunch of mediocre pictures of tulips like everyone else in this city, and maybe take the  wrong bus or something along the way so I’d have a story to tell you, but in the earlier part of the week the temp dropped to 5 degrees and there was unrelentingly hateful rain and wind, and then on my day off I spent the morning looking for my roommate’s cats, and was too traumatized all afternoon to attempt an adventure. But don’t worry, I’ll get around to it, because it’s just glorious. The city is furred with millions of tulips of all kinds and colors. Besides the big concentrations mentioned in the article, they’re popping up in roadside verges, around sidewalk trees, in front of government buildings- everywhere. You are aware that tulips originated in Turkey, right? In the sixteenth century they began to be imported into the Netherlands, which was soon in the grip of Tulip Mania, perhaps the world’s first speculative bubble. Soon tulips were worth their weight in gold, and then, if my memory serves, rather more than their weight in gold. When the bubble burst, people who’d paid more than the price of a Rembrandt for bulbs were left completely ruined. It’s a fascinating story, and if you haven’t read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollard- do it now. If you don’t want to read it, watch the dvd.

Writing about that has put an itch in my brain, because I feel like I read somewhere, sometime, that there was cone snail shell bubble at one point in history, but I can’t for the life of me think of when or where. Does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about? (An ex-boyfriend once told me I had a brain like an encyclopedia that had lost its binding. I think the pages get a little more scattered every year, and today in particular I feel like my brain is turning and turning in a widening gyre and can’t hear the falconer so bear with me as I mix metaphors like my name is Isabel Allende ((oh no I didn’t!)) and generally refuse to come to a point.)

But speaking of Flemish craziness, this is absolutely adorable and I so wish I’d thought of it first. I mean, why didn’t I? Airplane lavatories, toilet paper headresses, and Flemish portraiture obviously go together.

Speaking of art, This is Colossal is my new favorite blog. Thank you, Erik. Every post is more mesmerizing than the last. I really love the idea of coming upon one of these sculptures unexpectedly. I mean, you know you’d jump out of your skin, right? I think scattering them around the world would be the most amazing act of guerrilla art.  It reminded me of something I saw a year or so ago- could you imagine just snorkeling around on a sunny day and running into these guys? Gah!

On a more serious note, I was reading another blog a few weeks ago and the writer said that she would never live in a Muslim country. I had a knee jerk “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?!?!” reaction, but then I started thinking and thinking about it, about why someone would say that, what they imagine living in a Muslim country entails. (Very expensive pork, for one thing. If that’s a deal breaker than by all means…) Then I read this article, which articulated many of my feelings about religious identity in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Read it, and after you recover from violently face-palming yourself upon reading the part about Newt Gingrich, (and the American gov’t in general) tell me what you think about living in a country where you’re a religious minority, or about pervasive Muslim stereotypes, or anything at all, really. React.

Speaking religious ignorance, I learned a bunch from this article. It gave me stuff to think about for weeks.

On the other side of the pond, baseball season started this week. As an intractably fair-weather sports-sort-of-fan, I start yawning before you finish saying the word Orioles. I do not understand the passion for a team that is so bad they aren’t even fun to watch, but I imagine it’s something like enjoying the pain that comes with picking off a scab, or poking a toothpick into a tender spot in your gums. At any rate, my twitter and facebook feeds are alight with fervor and a weird mixture of optimism and fatality. Enjoy that, guys. In other Baltimore news, crowd beats, robs, and strips some poor tourist naked. Oh Baltimore, I miss you.

And finally, from an acquaintance of mine, an article on street cats. If you read Dog’s Life, you know I disagree with several points in this article, (isn’t one of the definitions of feral cat: (n) not starved for human affection ?) but it’s a great piece, and I learned a bunch from it. Good writing, Brooks!

All right, everybody try to behave yourselves and I’ll see you here next week.

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How To Not Lose 3 Cats

If your roommate goes to Europe for a week, and leaves you in charge of her three cats, and if you are not, strictly speaking, a cat person, you may have a few misgivings about caring for them. After all, if you’re like me, during your first night in the house you had a massive nightmare that all three escaped through the door you accidentally left open, while you, dream paralyzed, could only watch in horror. But when RM tells you she can have her friend check in on them, that will seem like such a pussy move. I mean, they’re cats. Minimum requirements are: feed, water, scoop poop, and don’t kick. If you spend an hour a day cuddling and petting, you’re a damned hero in their eyes. You can handle that.

It might happen that in the early morning hours the night before RM comes home, you will wake up to hear one of them humping (or something) the trash bag you left by the door. You will groan, roll out of bed, deposit the trash in the corridor, (have I mentioned lately how lovely it is that everyone, not just rich folks, just leaves their trash outside their door, and someone comes and picks it up?) and return for a couple more hours of sleep.

When you wake up it will be almost sunny outside, you’ll feel refreshed and well rested, and the day will seem full of possibility. You’ll stretch and wonder where to start. You’ll get out of bed, pad down the hall, and fill up the food bowls. No one will come running. That is very, very strange. You’ll pad back down the hall and see, to your horror, that the door, which has a persnickety latch, is cracked open.

At this point you will feel like panicking, but don’t quite yet. First gallop up and down the apartment, looking for any signs of cat anywhere, muttering “stupid, stupid, stupid” under your breath. Then pour more cat food into a bowl. When they still don’t appear, put on JUST enough clothing to avoid arrest, wrap up in a shawl and run out  of the apartment with a suitably crazed look on your face. Look everywhere as you make your way down the staircase.

As you approach the first floor you’ll notice the air getting colder and when you hit the floor your worst fears will be confirmed: because of the construction in the first floor apartment, the front door is wide open.

Before panic sets in you’ll want to formulate this scenario- mischievous cats go exploring in the stairwell, get frightened by buzz saws, run outside, too scared to come back in building because of previously mentioned buzz saws and also big scary men running in and out, they go… god knows where.

Ask the nearest construction worker, in your best turkish,

“Three cats are there?”

Be sure to sound like you’re about to cry.

“You speak English?” he’ll say.

“Yes,” say gratefully.

“No cats. What do they look like?”

“Gray. Much hair.” Make gestures to indicate their various sizes.

“No cats,” he’ll say. He’ll follow you outside as you start poking around the garden.

“There’s a cat, signora!” He’ll point to a tabby under the car across the street. “And there- the cats are black?”

“No, gray,” you should say. “One is like that-” gesture to a cat on the hood of a car, “but much, much bigger.”

“Bigger,”he’ll muse. “What about that one?”

Say “hayir,” and try not to get impatient.

Look everywhere in the garden,

You’ll see cats everywhere. On cars, under cars, in windowsills, on top of sheds, walking in the streets, eating from the bowls the neighbor set out, under the stairs. None of them will be the cats you’re looking for.

At this point, you might want to start envisioning RM’s face when you tell her you lost her cats, and how she’ll probably cry. To do this properly you should feel shittier than you have in a whole winter of feeling very shitty. Run upstairs, grab a bowl of kibble, and come back outside. The helpful construction worker will ask you if you found them. Suppress the urge to hit him, and the equally strong urges to cry and run away. Walk down the street, seawards, because that feels luckier, shaking the bowl and crooning the cats’ names. You’ll soon be followed by half a dozen strays, looking at you expectantly. When you get to where the street ends, by the staircase down to the park, look at the dogs lounging in the sunshine, and try not to envision them eating RM’s cats. On the way back, peer into every garden you pass. Walk the other way up the street, to the corner with the tekel shop. Try not to dwell on the moment you screwed up, really screwed up, this morning when you were half asleep and didn’t give the door an extra tap.

Sit on the front steps and shake the bowl of kibble feebly. The construction worker will come out and say,

“In Turkish you call cats like this. Psss psss psss psss. Just do that. They will come. Psss psss psss..” Try not to throttle him for assuming you don’t know universal calling a cat language. Look at the strays circling you and feel hopeless. A cat in the garden at this moment will probably chase another off from a chicken bone with much howling and hissing. You should probably at this point dwell on the helplessness of indoor cats in the complicated hierarchies and kingdoms the strays have set up out here, which you’ve never fully appreciated before. As you watch them you’ll realize they have codes and rules, territories and seniorities you can’t decifer. You will also realize there’s a whole daytime people street culture you were unaware of. Old men wander by and shout to invisible people through apartment windows. Women come out with bowls of food for the animals. The simit man comes by and a woman on an upper floor lowers a bucket with money in it. He takes the money and deposits a number of simit. She hauls it up. Down the street a woman with a broom pauses her work to talk to a next door neighbor who’s come out with a box of old clothes for the gypsies.

But don’t let this distract you from what clearly happened: the cats got out of the apartment because of your carelessness, got scared by the construction noise, ran outside, got beaten up for trespassing on some tabby’s square of garden, and if they didn’t then get eaten by a dog, ran off.. where? Where would you run if you were an apartment cat on the mean streets of Moda?

You will have no fucking clue.

Go back to the apartment. You’re doing no good on the steps, you’re just making the strays angry, teasing them with kibble. Go to the sun porch and look out to see if you can see them, while you formulate a plan. You won’t see the cats, and you won’t think of anything good. Consider googling the French Foreign Legion, but since you won’t be able to remember if they take women or not, decide that they don’t and go stand in the kitchen for no reason whatsoever and stare into the middle distance.

In a moment a sound will catch your ear. Through the construction noise and street noise and the noise of the birds and the distant barking dog you’ll hear a bowl clinking against tile. Your ears will perk, but don’t move. Listen hard. The sound will come again.

Move stealthily down the hall. There won’t, of course be any cats by the cat bowls, but if you turn your head fast enough you’ll see a tail disappearing beneath the dustruffle on RM’s bed.

Bend down.

Lift the dust ruffle.

See six eyes looking at you, all in a row.

Congratulations! You have successfully not lost three cats.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses, Update

I was out at the bar the other night, shooting the shit, when some fella announced that he’d seen real, live Jehovah’s Witnesses on the bus.

“I mean, how weird, right? In Turkey! Who knew!”

I opened my mouth to say something like, “I KNOW, right?” and then launch into my own Jehovah story, maybe with a few beer-embellishments, when A, who has a strong sense of right and wrong and the endearing habit of going all intense with indignation over things that just make the rest of us go, “huh,” said, sharply,

“How did you know they were Witnesses?”

Fella explained how he’d identified them, (I got distracted by the mixed nuts and didn’t pay strict attention) and A said,

“That is totally not right. They shouldn’t be here. They can’t approach people like that. Proselytism is illegal in Turkey.”

Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that, but now I remember Supercilious Susan bringing it up sometime during my first few weeks here.

Huh.

It explains why Turkey has the milquetoastiest Witnesses, like, ever. As fear of prosecution rises, I imagine, fear for my immortal soul must correspondingly decline.

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The Week In Links

It’s getting warmer and lovelier and flowerier here in Istanbul, and so much less conducive to sitting with a laptop reading whole articles and so much more conducive to daydreaming about having a bright yellow scooter to match the forsythia. Which reminds me- did I ever tell you about my grandmother and the forsythia bush? We had a forsythia on the side lawn that she spent my whole childhood doing great and terrible battle with. Every other spring or so she’d start grumbling about it, and one day I’d come home from school to find she’d have spent all day hacking it down into a stump. Of course, you can’t kill forsythia so easily, and within a week there’d be a half dozen cheery yellow shoots sticking out, which I believe she took to be a great “Fuck You” from the bush. I don’t know why she didn’t just have the stump removed. I think she enjoyed hating it.

Speaking of nana, she sent me an e-mail this week, subject line, “Good Morning Istanbut!”  Every morning when I go out onto the porch with my coffee and my bowl of yogurt I say, “Good morning, Istanbutt!” and giggle a little. I kind of want to change the name of my blog now. Thoughts?

Without further ado about nothing: Links!

I know some people don’t care for him, but I love Kurt Vonnegut, especially his essays. I love his brand of dry, common sense humanism. I love how he sees the world. I loved A Man Without a Country, and I love this collection of interviews with him.

Kurt gives good writing advice, and so does this guy. Thanks to Paul for sending this my way! It might be the best, funniest, truest piece of advice to writers I’ve read.

Apropos of nothing, this is a cool wind map of the US. Mesmerizing.

And these are pictures of the world’s largest mechanical elephant. So cool!

This article on how to eat in Istanbul on a student budget made me roll my eyes. Restaurants? On a backpackers budget? Seriously? The least you pay in a restaurant is, like, ten lira. STREET FOOD, Istanbul Eats. STREET FOOD. Not everyone has a trust fund. Cig Kofte durum and an ayran is healthy, filling, and clocks in at three lira at the joint up the street from my house. Tavuk doner, a huge grilled chicken sandwich, is two lira by the Iskelesi. Peynirli simit (simit and cheese) is a reasonably filling breakfast a/o lunch and it’s 1.50 at any simit vendor’s cart. Two if you throw in a bottle of water. Restaurants. Good lord.

This just made me sad. I love the crowded, unpassable streets in Beyoglu. On a Saturday evening it’s so lovely to park yourself outside one of the restaurants, and drink beer with your date, and just watch people flow by. Okay, so it’s a huge fire hazard and public safety issue but c’mon, Istanbul. Your whole city is kind of a death trap, between the sidewalks and the dolmuses and the traffic and all the ways around building codes and the general lack of safety precautions and the impending earthquake. Where’s the fun in being able to let firetrucks through? Bring back the illegal outdoor seating!

Here’s a sad article about proving you’re gay in the Turkish Army.

A long time ago at a different school I had a real shit of a student, pardon my french. Did’t want to learn English. Was constantly working to make sure I couldn’t possibly misunderstand how little she wanted to learn English. Super spoiled. She kept insisting she was Ottoman, and I kept insisting that the Ottomans are dead, sweetheart. Or, My, you look very well for your age. Turns out I was mistaken. The last Ottoman just died. My apologies.

And that’s that. Now get off the computer and go outside!

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Pointless Ferry Ride

This week one of my students is in Egypt on business, and another is just MIA, so I have an unprecedented amount of free time in the mornings and early afternoons. Plan A was to spend it all outside like I’ve been dying to do for the past few weeks. I envisioned writing on a park bench, reading on a blanket on the grass, picnics on the rocks- but the temp fell five degrees, just to the point where a walk in the sunshine is nice, but it’s too cold to hang out. Then I got really excited about just hanging out around the house. Cleaning, reading and writing on the sun porch, taking out my spring clothes…

Every spring I get so excited- about the warm weather, the sunshine, the flowers, the blooming trees, bringing out my summer frocks- that I forget two hard truths that come with every April: bugs and construction projects.

Monday I woke up to the sound of the first floor apartment being gutted.

Cruelest month indeed.

I went to the park for an hour or so. I ran every errand I could think of. I came back to the apartment and plugged into my i-pod, (which is so old and broken now it only plays one playlist) and got some things done.

By dusk there was a huge pile of drywall and pipes outside the apartment, Blonde Dog and Black Dog were gone, and I had a headache.

This morning I woke up to banging and drilling again.

It will not do.

We have to get out of the house. I don’t have any cash, so unless you want to spot me some….? No? Okay. Well, then our options are limited.  More so by the fact that I have to be at work at three. We could go for a walk, I guess.

Or go to work early.

JESUS CHRIST. WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!?!? Are they cutting through support beams? Is it even safe to sleep here anymore?

That’s it.  We’re leaving.

Get your coat. We’re out of here.

We’ll just go on a pointless ferry ride.

Did I ever tell you about Umut, who I used to work with? He was a piece of work. I went out for fish dinner and raki with him one night- perfectly harmless, he was married, poor woman- in Kadikoy. When we passed this statue

he asked if I knew the story of it. I said no.

“A long time ago, there was a peasant boy who loved a girl, but they couldn’t be together so he turned himself into a bull. He put her on his back and swam across the Bosporus.”

“Oh wait, I do know that story,” I said.  “But it wasn’t a peasant boy, it was the Greek god Zeus. And the girl’s name was Europa. ”

Umut didn’t say anything for a minute. I would later learn that he had anger problems, and that he hated it when anyone, particularly a woman, knew something he didn’t. Once he pointed out to me that the escalator and its handrail move at different speeds. When I said “Yup,” instead of, I don’t know, “Oh my God! I never noticed that before!” (because I never used the handrail before? I guess?) he sulked. Like he was sulking now.

“I hadn’t heard that,” he eventually said, stiffly. “I heard it was a peasant boy.”

“Maybe there are different stories,” I said lamely. He didn’t respond.

But regardless, this bull, which now mostly functions as a convenient place for people to meet, or a landmark when giving directions, or a prop for teenagers to take their pictures with, is actually Zeus, who has just turned himself into a shining white bull. He’ll go to the meadow where Europa is picking flowers in a moment, and she’ll ooh and ahh over what a lovely bull he is- and so tame! and so gentle!- and when she gets close to put a garland of flowers around his neck, he’ll flip her on his back and make a run for the sea and carry her across the Bosporus to Europe. She’ll call out for someone to save her but no one will, cause, you know, it’s Zeus. And when they get to Europe he’ll rape her. It all started here, folks.

I’m pretty sure, anyway.

Here we are at the ferry dock- the next boat’s at 13:20, but it looks like we can board soon. Boarding is always a shovey experience. When getting on any form of transit in Istanbul I often find myself chanting “Be aggressive, be be aggressive” in my head and waving imaginary pom-poms around. Old ladies are the worst. They’ll cut a bitch for their preferred seat.

Here we are. Breathe the sea air. In and out. Forget about the noisy flat and everything you could be doing at home right now. Forget about the layer of demo dust that’s sure to be filtering up and settling over all your things now. Just look around at beautiful Kadikoy, with its acres of lush mini-buses,

its many, many full-sized buses,

I’m pretty sure that pink building is a sewage treatment center. There’s one somewhere around here, anyway.

And this thing might be my favorite eyesore. I mean I guess K-koy doesn’t have the most esthetic coast line but c’mon. That little jutty bit with the sea wall wouldn’t be so bad- but Turkbalon is so ugly, and doesn’t blend in with anything, and you can see it from Europe. Also, I have lived in Istanbul for nearly a year and a half, now,  ten months of that in Kadikoy, and I have seen this thing in the air ONCE. ONCE. It’s ugly and it’s not even useful.

Oh! We’re off! Goodbye for now, Kadikoy. I’ll come back in an hour to catch a bus to work.

Oh, lookit that! I think these are the new trains for the new metroline! All shiney and still in their shrink wrap!

I remember back in my late teens and very early twenties, when I was babysitting, if a toddler in my charge was having a bad day, or was restless or bored, or if I was restless and bored, a great activity was to hop in the stroller and go visit a construction site. Toddlers totally bliss out staring at the big machines doing their thing, and the grumpies are totally forgotten.

I think this works well on 33 year old women, too.

I mean, how cool is all this stuff for moving cargo containers?!

Okay. Goodbye, cranes.

There’s the Maiden’s Tower. It was built 2500 years ago or so to control the flow of ships up and down the Bosporus, and rebuilt by the Byzantines as a fortress. Now it’s a restaurant for tourists. This is also where a Sultan imprisoned his daughter for many years, because a prophesy foretold that on her eighteenth birthday she’d be bitten by a snake and die. Of course, he brought her a basket of grapes to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, and didn’t bother to check them for asps.

Once I was teaching a group of high school girls. One interrupted the (not terribly interesting) lesson to ask what was my favorite tourist spot in Istanbul. I had to wrack m brain for a polite and conventional answer because- you read this blog- I don’t go to many tourist spots, but I think I came out with a strangled, “Sultanahmet! Hagia Sofia!” “Teacher, have you gone to the Maiden’s Tower?” “I haven’t yet,” I said, feeling inadequate. I really don’t do enough STUFF. You know, I still haven’t been inside the Blue Mosque? Isn’t that ridiculous? “Teacher, you must go,” the girl insisted. “Maiden Tower very beautiful. Very nice.” The rest of the students agreed, nodding and murmuring. “Do you go there a lot?” I asked. They looked startled and shook their heads. “Have you- ever been there?” “No,” said the instigator, “but it’s very nice.”

And here is a big old cargo boat.

And here are some little boats. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own little boat to cross the Bosporus in? Of course, your own little boat wouldn’t sell you simit and tea, but that’s about the only disadvantage I can think of off the top of my head.

And this is the sky today. Isn’t it nice?

And there’s Europe.

Okay and let’s go upstairs cause we are disturbing some kind of moment with our picture taking.

And this is the view out to the sea. A little hazy today, but still nice, no?

Asia

Europe

I wonder where we are?

Here’s the Halic bridge. We’re passing the Golden Horn

And here’s Eminonu!

If we had time, we could wander over the Halic bridge to Karakoy. Look at the fishermen. Dodge the unbelievably (even for Istanbul) aggressive waiters who lurk outside the fish restaurants on the lower story. Or we could wander through the spice market, which is right behind that big mosque we’re looking at. But we don’t. We’ll just exit the ship and get right back on and head back to K-koy, feeling quite a bit better about life, and exponentially less stabby, than when we left the apartment.

Rating of Pointless Ferry Ride

Cost: (with Istanbul kart) 2.75

Duration: 1:15

Entertainment Value: 6/10

Cultural/Educational Value: dubious

Easy to Do: 10/10

Snack Proximity: Excellent

Good Thing to Do When You’re Cranky?: YES.

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Filed under Kadikoy, Photos, Seeing Sights

Sunday Morning

Last night when I posted a “Hey, suckers, this is at the end of my street” photo on Twitter,

Kat replied, ” I would never get anything done. I would just stare at the lovelies all day.” That is a problem. Istanbul is a gorgeous city full of spectacular views. I don’t even have the best. Not even close. But I can see a wedge of sea from the porch where I’m eating breakfast,

and it’s not conducive to wanting to go to work. I could be there

in five minutes with a book and a picnic lunch. (Okay, actually, to get there in five minutes I’d be lunchless and pantsless and out of breath, but you get the idea. ) Or call up some people and meet them down there. Maybe someone could bring a guitar. That would be nice. Or hell, it would be nice to sit on this porch all day, reading, or doing my Turkish homework or something.

I could look out the window at the sea whenever I wanted, or lean out to see what Blonde Dog and Black Dog are doing- what are they doing?

Oh. Harrassing some poor fluffy fop of a person’s dog. Figured they were up to no good. Seriously, I could watch them run up and down the street all day. Doesn’t that sound more fun than going to work? Do I have to go?

Sigh.

Okay, take one long last wistful look behind you- we’re walking away from the sea.

Oh jesus and the trees are in bloom too-

If the nostaljik tramvay is at the corner, we could take that. That’s always fun.

But it might be just heartbreaking when we get to the bottom of the hill and round the corner and see this

No. We’ll walk.

Here is the bus.

One last look at the Bosporus.

And we’ll go to work. Where this is the view from the window.

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Language success story.

My Turkish speaking and listening skills, which are never hot outside of a controlled setting where people are speaking slowly, are improving!

This morning, for instance, I was able to ask a man standing in the bizarrely empty bus terminal, where I’ve never seen fewer than seventy-five or so buses,

“Hey, what’s going on?” I didn’t understand his answer, but I was able to plow fearlessly ahead with, “Where are the buses?”

He said something, and then asked me where I was going. I said I was going to work, near Capitol, and that I needed a 13, or a 14, or a 14R, or a 14Y, or a 15, or a 110, or a 500A, or a… He interrupted me to say,

“Unfortunately there is not. You have a problem.” Then he shrugged in a very Turkish way and moseyed down the street, which was lined by policemen and heavy-duty police fencing, and completely empty of cars.

Huh.

I was then able to ask a succession of policemen where the buses were. One said, “Over there,” brusquely and turned away. One sighed and consulted his partner, and then said something I didn’t understand at all. The last one assured me the buses were by the Carrefour shopping center, so I walked there, where I was able to further practice my Talking to Strangers in Turkish skills by asking a mini-bus driver,

“Excuse me? Where are the buses from Kadikoy?”

“There aren’t any!” he said cheerfully.

“What?” I said. “The policeman over there is talking the buses from Kadikoy are at Carrefour!”

“Unfortunately not, no buses. There’s a meeting in Kadikoy. No buses.”

Huh. So much for being early to work and having a stress-free cup of coffee while I made photocopies in peace. I did some quick mental math- there was no money in my wallet, so I was limited to public transportation unless I walked 45 minutes back home which would make me X late for work, but then again it might take me another half hour to walk to the metrobus station which would make me Y late for work…

“How do I go?” I said, helplessly.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to work. I’m going to Altunizade.”

“This mini-bus is going to altunizade! Come! This one! We are going!”

“I don’t have any money,” I said. “No money.”

“No problem! No money! Get in!”

“Okay. Thanks!”

It almost makes me wish the transit would randomly stop running without any warning and without any instructions of what to do or where to go more often so I can flex my new locative case muscles.

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The Week In Links

Oh my god, is it really Thursday again? Is it really the end of March? Time flies when you’re enjoying the fact that it no longer rains eight days out of twelve and finally enjoying the view from the park at the end of your street.

Why don’t you live in Istanbul, again?

But enough questioning your life choices: on the the best links I found this week.

I’m awfully glad this fellow, who calls himself OttomansandZionists, is blogging about politics. Someone has to, but I’m too busy writing about the dog I’m kind of obsessed with that lives by our dumpster. We all have priorities. But this is an interesting take on how Turkey’s foreign policy seems to be essentially: Look Busy and Gloss Over Everything!

And on the homefront, here’s a lovely photo-blog of The Enchanted Forest, which I drove past almost every day for something like five years.

If that made any other Catonsville/Ellicott City ex-pats homesick, here’s a nice article about it from the NYT my mom sent me. Reading it made me realize I’ve been pretty blessedly free from this disease. I mean, I am desperately, soul-achingly taco-sick, and there are lots of things I miss sometimes, (Rite Aids, actual burgers that aren’t McDonalds or what the Turks call burgers but are actually closer to sausage rolls, privacy…) but mostly I’ve adapted pretty well, I think. Anyone have any thoughts about their experiences with homesickness?

SPEAKING OF TACOS: how long d’you suppose the range on this taco-delivering unmanned drone is? ‘Cause this is just about the best thing ever and I WANT THIS SERVICE RIGHT NOW.

What do I love more than tacos? Books. Here is a really interesting article about Cassanova, whose actual physical memoirs are out of private hands for the first time since 1798. The story of the poor book is fascinating, and I now have yet another book on my summer reading list.

Speaking of things that have been banned, (man, I am on a segue ROLL today!) what the (pardon my french) FUCK is going on with the parents of the millenial generation? Do you all think your kids are Victorian damsels, to be wrapped in cotton wool and kept in state of complete innocence until they graduate from high school? Jesus H Christ. If it isn’t enough to ban words like “birthday party” from standardized tests in New York, some poor teacher has been suspended for reading Enders Game to his students. I’m appalled.

And finally, a little levity from this website that I just found and find utterly delightful.

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Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in Bed

When I came out of the apartment this morning the next door neighbor was rewarding and reinforcing black dog and blonde dog’s poor behavior by bringing them delicious chicken scraps and cooing and generally fussing over them while they gulped down their treats.

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March 29, 2012 · 10:42

Futures in Turkish Coffee

First Drink

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Then you flip the cup upside down and put money on it to draw out the heat.

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Then someone reads the grounds for you and tells you your luck is going to change because there’s a streak shaped like a seahorse.

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Filed under Daily Life, Food, Photos, Turkish Culture